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There was this person, who was so fed up with life, trying to be a perfect parent, perfect friend, perfect everything. Making it a first person account – The problem was in trying to live my life on someone else’s terms and making a mess of what I was, masking my strengths and gradually forgetting my true self.

Yoga Rabbit

Dancing Rabbit

Why live life on terms as defined by others. Other’s perception of perfection should not and does not indicate true perfection. Perfection is a very personal characteristic based on our own abilities and thoughts – so why lose sleep over our inability to match to standards prescribed and set by others. It is better to dance to our own tunes and not to other’s. Concept beautifully demonstrated with the following story and read on…

The little rabbit stood alone, watching the other rabbits around hop and skip in the forest. They were playing her favourite rabbit game. Try as she might, each time she attempted to join in, she tripped about awkwardly. When this happened, the other rabbits laughed at her and called her “Riya” (Graceful in Sanskrit).

Soon even she forgot her real name. In moments when Riya was alone, she danced around the trees with ease. She was as smooth and graceful as any ballerina. An old owl sat high above one night, watching her intently. The moonlight streamed through the treetops like a soft spotlight and he sat and watched as little Riya moved in and out of the moonbeans.

Finally he said, “Riya, you are more graceful than any creature I’ve ever seen.” Riya was startled that someone had been watching her; but listened carefully to the wise owl’s words as he continued. “You have carried this beauty within you all this time, but locked it inside when you tried too hard.”

Often we are too intent on proving ourselves and pleasing others. The harder we try the more impossible the task becomes. We begin to lose our identity and all sense of who we really are and what we can do.

Then comes the power of robbers who through negative talk, remarks and jibes would rather have us believe that we cannot. Some of us may be fortunate to run into those like the old owl, the power enablers and facilitators, who bring back to us a sense of who we really are and what we are really meant to be. They help us see the beauty that is locked away inside, the potential that we all have. Others finally realize that they have two who can always be counted on. The first themselves and the second-nature, which never call us names or whispers behind our backs. We come to a point when we begin to be honest with ourselves.

We see the truth that we are all creatures of our times, that imperfections and faults are part of every being’s life tapestry and that all elements are woven into our lives, some frozen in time and others still open to inside work and shaping out. Then in a moment of great discovery we embrace all that is part of ourselves.

Like Riya we learn to dance and celebrate our wholeness. We become less obessed with the scorn that can be heaped on us by others. The negative is drowned by positive images. We realize like Riya that nature is our friend. Nature waits patiently. There is no pressure to be anyone else than who we already are. We relearn the dance of life. All the while we have just tried too hard.

Grace is not some sophisticated word used only for artists or models on a catwalk. It is the ability to live life on one’s own terms, the ability to kindle true life in others, the strength and courage to overcome those who would control and manipulate us. Sometimes grace in living comes after repeated failures. The rabbit Riya picked herself up when she came to a sense of her true self.

Many walk through your life, but few leave footprints on your heart. Take long spells of rest in nature. Become like Riya the rabbit who found that she had an identity of her own, so precious, that she had to first discover it by herself. And then when you discover your true identity and your own voice, become a power broker in this world, for gentleness and understanding.

Yes this is what His Holiness Pujya Gurudev Sri Sri Ravishankar and The Art of Living did to me – transform me into Riya, the ever graceful.

About Art of Living, Art of Living Experiences, Yoga and Meditation.

Someone, in a random conversation about life, recently wrote to me on twitter asking how my activities and sadhana at Art Of Living were going on. I quipped “that’s pArt Of Living. Like BREATHING”.

This write-up is a ‘leap’ from now to then. The many in-betweens, you ask? That’s for later.

Pre-February 2005

Art Of LivingSri Sri Ravishankar – these two names rang a bell. Along with these I used to get flashing images of Richard Gere and Rhea Pillai. Why, you ask?

Because I read about them in association with Sri Sri Ravishankar and Art Of Living. And what a fancy name, I must say! Art. Beautiful. No?

Sometime in February – March

Bipin said he is planning to join Art Of Living. During the 5 days of the course period I saw a good many differences in him and for the good.

Sometime in March – April

I happened to meet Manjax (actually Manjita, I call her so simply because she calls me ‘Appax’), and then I met Geetha. Two different people from two entirely different circle of friends, and they were voicing out the same words, well almost, words of praise and excitement about Art Of Living. Manjax, though not a part of Art Of Living was vouching for it. Both of them, edging me to join Art Of Living, something Bipin was doing for quite sometime by now. So I finally decided to give it a ‘try’. ‘Just for the heck of it’. (mark my attitude). I wasn’t losing much of my money by paying a thousand bucks, money which was assured to be used for social projects.

My first Sudarshan Kriya, the experience and the after effects:

First they made us do ‘Disha Naman’. That is bowing down to the Gods who control the four directions – North, South, East, and West.

Maheshgiri-ji guiding Disha Pranam

And here I was saying to myself, “did they say God? D-uh…!” (mark my attitude). Bipin had said that it’s not any religious course… GOD. THE CONCEPT OF GOD. It had never seemed to take any firm root in my mind. It was beyond comprehension. (Little did I know then that I needed to open my heart as well. You have to understand how confused I was about religion and spirituality.) My concept of God was limited to The Sun God. Well okay, so, I bowed. So what! Every pore full of love for my loved ones. They are all God. No? Clever! Beat that! (mark my attitude). Then we did ‘Pranayama’, something we had learnt the previous day already. Then after, we did The Sudarshan Kriya‘SOHAM’. And oh my ‘God’!, ain’t I glad I did it… till date, that is, and till undated, I am sure. Guruji’s ethereal voice filling my mind. My heart. My soul.

We all never realized we sat through an hour and a half, for the whole process. We were asked to describe our experience doing our first Kriya. Then when it was my turn to talk, I was like, “experience? What experience? I don’t have a single thought in my mind, and the fact is that this is the only thought in my mind!” My answer was “I don’t know. I can’t think.” I was absolutely dazed. Transfixed. Mesmerised. Stupefied. Bedazzled. And, lastly, worried, wondering if ‘these people’ put a spell on me. Trying hard to get my senses back. I was spell-bound. Little did I know, then, that all the elderly course participants were striving for that. Little did I know, then, that the everyone was striving for that, craving for that. And it was so easy for me, …and I was worried about that! Silly me! (mark my attitude)

I do not know what power rode me back to my house. Little did I know, then, that I had found a home. I felt safe.

Post that day:

I never analysed the transformation in me, I don’t know why. Maybe because I never realized it until it dawned on me one fine day. And now, again, I still don’t have any words to explain the beauty of what dawned on me. In the ‘SUN’ I firmly believed, I was sun-bathing.

Reformation:

What? You may ask.

For one, ‘I used to be an ATHEIST’. My words need no reading in between lines for the ones even remotely connected with me. The other transformations, you ask? Later.

Now, I no more have flashing images of R Gere or R Pillai. The place is taken over by R Shankar. Sri Sri Ravishankar, and whenever I am hovered by his flashing image, you will find a thunderous smile flashing across my face.

My Gurudev! Ah! ….and as they say in Art Of LivingJOY GURUDEV!

P.S.: My journey between ‘My Guruji’ & ‘My Gurudev’, that too, later!

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